Date: 22nd September 2015 at 9:10am
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The future of the Lotus team might appear under threat, but that hasn’t prevented them making plans for their 2016 driver line-up.

The rumours in the paddock suggest that the Enstone team will be taken over by French manufacturer Renault.

This would see the team drop Mercedes power and become a fully blown manufacturer just like Ferrari and Mercedes.

However unlike Ferrari and Mercedes they will not become an engine supplier as well, keeping and developing their own power-unit for themselves.

The Lotus team is currently struggling financially, something that a buy-out from Renault would resolve, however it would seem that money still talks, especially when it comes via Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

The Williams team benefited to the tune of $140million over a three-year-deal with PDVSA when Pastor Maldonado drove for the team.

He took that sponsorship with him to the Enstone team, it isn’t clear how much the deal is worth, but it would appear significant enough for them to extend the 30-year-old’s contract into another season.

‘Everyone at Enstone will testify that Pastor is a terrific person to work with and we all know the performances he is capable of on track. Lotus F1 team principal Gerard Lopez told the BBC.

The next question is who will partner him?

Romain Grosjean is under contract to stay with Lotus for 2016, but reports are that he is likely to join newbie team Haas F1.

The United States team has strong links with Ferrari, the Italian side will be developing the teams power-unit and gearbox amongst other things, whilst the chassis will be developed by Haas.

Grosjean could see this move as one that would make him well placed to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2017.

But if he was to leave Lotus, then who could be in contention to become Maldonado’s team-mate?

Force India’s Sergio Perez could be a possible target as he has not yet confirmed if he will remain with Force India.

McLaren reserve driver Kevin Magnussen could return to Formula One if he isn’t lined up to replace Jenson Button in 2016, or Ex-Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne could be considered.